How an Exit from the EU Could Change Employment Law

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If you’re a business owner, you’re probably wondering how the results of the EU referendum – promised by David Cameron – is going to impact employment law in your office. A move away from the EU would mean that UK businesses wouldn’t have to comply with Europe’s requirements for employment law, and these changes to legislation could have a huge impact on your staff and potentially your bottom line. But would these likely be positive or negative changes, and what does this mean for employers and employees? We look at a few key areas below as a point of discussion.

Working Hours

Under the Conservative government a number of changes seem likely if we leave the EU. This includes scrapping the 48 hour maximum working week. As one of the hardest working countries (in terms of hours) in Europe already, this won’t be popular with employees. The good news for businesses, though, is that they may be allowed to scrap time-monitoring paperwork.

The change would also likely include a review of holiday pay too, and how the amount of days off a year are calculated. Furthermore, agency workers will lose many of their rights, such as the right to receive the same wage as the staff member they are replacing, once they have been in this role for 12 weeks. If this comes to pass, it’s best for employers to consult an employment law solicitor, before you make any changes to your system.

Discrimination

The EU has strict laws regarding discrimination in the workplace. The UK already had legislation in place to protect workers from age, sex, and race discrimination, before the Equality Act 2010, which was passed so the UK met the EU’s requirements. Although leaving the EU would give the UK more freedom to revisit this legislation, the current requirements would probably remain. However, it’s likely that a cap will be introduced on how much an employee can claim under the Equality Act 2010. At the moment, we can’t do this as part of the EU, but this would be possible if we left.

Family Law

Paternity and maternity rights are often a hot point of contention within a business. However, the UK has opted to offer even stronger rights to parents starting a family than EU law requires. Many businesses enjoy having a robust family package, as it can be a great recruitment tool, and it can ensure that you keep the very best employees in the long run.

It would seem that most employee rights will stay the same, if we choose to leave the EU, with some modifications in a business’ favour. It also depends on how we decide to leave the EU; whether it’s a clean break or if we decide to stay in the EEA – similar to Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

However, in this scenario, we would still have to comply with many EU laws, but we wouldn’t have a say in how they were decided upon. Which begs the question, why leave at all?

Do you think it’s a good idea for the UK to leave the EU? Let us know your thoughts on the subject by leaving a comment!